Bears ‘Team to Watch’ in Possible Trade for Disgruntled Bengals WR

Tee Higgins

Getty Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals has requested a trade.

The Chicago Bears already made one splash trade for a wide receiver when they added veteran Keenan Allen on March 14.

That surely eliminates them from making further trades at the wide receiver position, but Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report named the Bears one of the “receiver-needy teams to watch” in the Tee Higgins sweepstakes.

“Higgins requested a trade last month after the Cincinnati Bengals hit him with the franchise tag,” Gagnon wrote on April 3, noting he wouldn’t “be surprised” if Higgins winds up in another uniform by the time the NFL draft arrives on April 25.

That team very likely isn’t going to be the Bears, though.

Trading for WR Tee Higgins Would Be Too Much for Bears to Take on Fiscally

The 6-foot-4, 219-pound Higgins just turned 25 January and is entering his fifth season in the NFL.

A second-round pick out of Clemson for Cincinnati in 2020, Higgins finished just shy of a 1,000-yard season as a rookie (908 yards). He had back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 2021 and 2022, establishing himself as a legitimate vertical threat, but he dealt with a few nagging injuries last season.

A cracked rib and hamstring injury limited Higgins to 12 games in 2023. He finished with 42 catches for 656 yards and five touchdowns. Over his four years in the league, he has amassed 257 receptions for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns.

With production like that, Higgins is going to want to get paid, and he’s due for a contract extension. His franchise tag price this year is just over $21.8 million, and he’s likely want at least that or more annually. PFF had him projected at $21 million per season before he was franchise tagged.

Considering the resources the Bears already have going to the wide receiver position — Allen has a cap hit over $23 million, while top receiver DJ Moore’s cap hit is just over $16 million (numbers via Over the Cap). Chicago will likely want to extend Moore within the next few seasons, so paying over $20 million to Higgins on top of its other fiscal commitments simply isn’t realistic.

Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team reported on February 26 that “several team executives believe the Bengals could get a first round pick or an early second round pick” in a potential trade for Higgins.

Drafting a WR is Likely Route for Bears Moving Forward

Washington’s Rome Odunze and LSU standouts Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. are all options in the first round for Chicago. Odunze and/or Nabers could be in play at No. 9 when Chicago has its second selection. Thomas would likely be a trade-down option in Round 1.

The Bears also have picks in the third and fourth rounds, and there could be some intriguing wideouts available then, as well. USC’s Brendan Rice, son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, caught passes from Caleb Williams in college. Williams, of course, is widely expected to be chosen by Chicago with the No. 1 pick. Rice had 45 receptions for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2023.

Other options at WR in Rounds 3 and 4 could include Jamari Thrash of Louisville, Ainias Smith out of Texas A&M and UCF’s Javon Baker.

With no shortage of receivers set to be available on minimum contracts, expect the Bears to fill their roster needs at the position that way.

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